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The historic Warehouse District south of downtown Phoenix matters. It has not always been that way as the years have seen buildings demolished and cultures dispersed in favor of sports venues and parking lots. It took a village, so the phrase goes, but with the help of City staff, surrounding residential communities, Warehouse District stakeholders, and members of the general public during the spring 2014 semester, Dr. Lauren Allsopp and her class, PUP 598: Urban Design Workshop, created the Warehouse District Reactivation Plan. The key instructions Dr. Allsopp gave the class were to retain and enhance social equity; create real strategies; and find funding sources to make them implementable.
While the graduate students were walking the district’s streets, researching and meeting with a variety of key players, business owners were equally busy with plans for revitalizing the area—from adaptively reusing warehouses to installing sidewalks. The outcome, six months later, is a unified group of people dedicated to preserving the sense of place and character of the Warehouse District, while revitalizing the area as a key component in downtown Phoenix.
The purpose of the activation plan is to move beyond analysis and discrete studies to provide practical direction for the Warehouse District’s future growth and sustainable development. Graduate students addressed some of the long-standing economic, environmental, aesthetic, and developmental challenges of breathing new life into the area.
The initial chapters provide an in-depth look at the Warehouse District today, specifically socioeconomic conditions, demographics, development history, transportation, to name a few. The Reactivation Strategies chapter is the meat of the plan. It delves into streetscape enhancements, adaptive reuse, mixed use, overcoming the food desert, and cultural and educational enhancements. On a closer scale, the students suggested turning Lincoln Street into a Complete Street, using discontinued rail cars as cafes, and establishing a culinary institute as a work/learn feature within the District. The final chapters provide a roadmap to implement the Reactivation Strategies, including a schedule of phasing, and a list of funding opportunities.
Overall, the Warehouse District Activation Plan identifies practical and fundable initiatives, which support a future vision for the District. Collectively, these initiatives are designed to strengthen the local micro-economy, improve the visual appeal of the area, and create the conditions where greater social equity can be realized while improving the visible stewardship over the physical environment that exist today so as to celebrate the important industrial history of this important area of Phoenix’s downtown infrastructure.
The complete Plan is available online at www.transpolisglobal.com/phx_whd_activ_plan.html.